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BUSTED: Melbourne tradie to pay $150,000 for faking back injury

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

A Melbourne tradesman has been given a one-year suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay more than $150,000 for working while claiming workers compensation.

Frankston handyman Jack Berry pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud for secretly working while receiving compensation for a work-related back injury.

Berry ran handyman businesses under three different names from August 2014 to October 2016, the Frankston Magistrates Court heard, all while submitting certificates to WorkSafe to declare he was unfit for work.

Over that time he received $124,397.20 in workers comp, as well as earning $88,225 from 15 clients for handyman work — including kitchen and bathroom renovations, and fence and retaining wall installations.

A WorkSafe investigation showed court surveillance video of the 50-year-old “lifting, moving, loading and unloading renovation materials”.

A search warrant at Berry’s home also found more than 70 boxes of unopened medication prescribed by his doctors to help with the supposed back injury.

The court ordered the drugs be destroyed.

Berry pleaded guilty to obtaining financial advantage by deception under the Crimes Act and obtaining fraudulent payments under the Workplace Injury, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act.

In addition to repaying the $124,397.20 fraudulently received, the court ordered the tradesman to pay $27,000 in legal costs.

WorkSafe insurance business executive director Shane O’Dea said while most injured workers correctly claim compensation, it was “sad” a few try to take advantage of the system unfairly.

“Those who defraud the system will be held to account,” he said.

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